Ricard Solé, the well known complex systems scientist, has a new book Phase Transitions (here’s Table of Contents). It sounds interesting especially since Solé’s work frequently includes ecological and evolutionary dynamics. The book looks very similar it is to Marten Scheffer‘s Critical Transitions in Nature and Society – so it will be interesting to see how they differ in approach and content.
The book is the third in Princeton University Press’s Primers in Complex Systems series. Since phase transitions, critical transitions, and regime shifts are all extremely similar and all relate to resilience I’ll certainly check the book out.
The publisher describes the book:
Phase transitions–changes between different states of organization in a complex system–have long helped to explain physics concepts, such as why water freezes into a solid or boils to become a gas. How might phase transitions shed light on important problems in biological and ecological complex systems? Exploring the origins and implications of sudden changes in nature and society, Phase Transitions examines different dynamical behaviors in a broad range of complex systems. Using a compelling set of examples, from gene networks and ant colonies to human language and the degradation of diverse ecosystems, the book illustrates the power of simple models to reveal how phase transitions occur.
Introductory chapters provide the critical concepts and the simplest mathematical techniques required to study phase transitions. In a series of example-driven chapters, Ricard Solé shows how such concepts and techniques can be applied to the analysis and prediction of complex system behavior, including the origins of life, viral replication, epidemics, language evolution, and the emergence and breakdown of societies.
Written at an undergraduate mathematical level, this book provides the essential theoretical tools and foundations required to develop basic models to explain collective phase transitions for a wide variety of ecosystems.